Sound — 9
This album strikes me as quietly introspective, with hints of the band's signature politically-charged vigor. "Ignoreland" suggests that, with a catchy hook and a driving beat. Michael Stipe's signature energetic vocals come through in this song, and it pulses with energy. However, in contrast, songs such as "Everybody Hurts", "Nightswimming", and "Find the River" are steeped in pensive emotion, intensified by piano and acoustic guitar. Considering the variety of sounds present in this album, this is one of the best R.E.M. albums out there.
Lyrics — 10
The most intriguing lyrics in this album are in "Try Not to Breathe." I wonder what inspired this song. "I will try not to breathe, this decision is mine, I have lived a full life." suggests that the speaker is considering suicide. However, "these are the eyes that I want you to remember, I need something to fly over my grave again" suggests that he is directing his thoughts towards someone. Another song that intrigues me is "Find The River". This strikes me as particularly poetic, with lines such as "The privileged and weary eyes of river poets search naivete" and "My thoughts are flower strewn, ocean storm, bayberry moon." I believe that the real meaning of this song lies in the melody, which is introspective and subtly hopeful. "Nightswimming" and "Everybody Hurts" are two songs with very emotionally-charged lyrics, that have a clear meaning. "Nightswimming" suggests intimacy and isolation, and "Everybody Hurts" is a classic, with lines such as "Hold on, when you feel like letting go, you're not alone" which suggests hope and strength. Overall, these lyrics are very meaningful, poetic and emotional.
Overall Impression — 9
My overall impression is that this album is melodic, poetic, introspective, emotional, and diverse. It is one of the most diverse R.E.M. albums, retaining some of their signature energy-driven rock, as well as the jangly guitar and acoustic sounds. The most impressive songs from this album are "Find the River", "Ignoreland, "Everybody Hurts", "Try Not to Breathe", and "Drive". I love the poetic and emotional content of this. I like music that makes me think, and feel emotions. This album certainly does just that. One downside is that the songs do get tedious after a while; once you've experienced them, you can only listen to them so many times before they infiltrate your mind and you find yourself humming them constantly. Otherwise, this album is a very good one, especially for those just getting into R.E.M.'s music. I would recommend it to anyone.